Complete Analysis of Manchester United's Argentina Defender Marcos Rojo

Daniel EdwardsFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2014


New Manchester United signing Marcos Rojo would surely have heard all about playing at Old Trafford. The 24-year-old defender started his professional career with Estudiantes de La Plata under the watchful eye of captain and legend Juan Sebastian Veron.

Now, the Argentina international has the chance to follow in La Brujita's footsteps, as he prepares for a new life under Louis van Gaal in the north-west of England. According to BBC Sport, the Red Devils paid out £16 million to take Rojo to the club, banking on his budding talent to stem a defence that at times looked downright leaky during the 2013/14 season. 

But who is Rojo? Has he the ability and the application to make it not just in one of the most physically demanding leagues in the world but also at a club where success is expected as almost a foregone conclusion? The following is what the left-sided defender will be bringing to the table this year at Old Trafford. 



It could be said, rather glibly, admittedly, that Rojo's greatest strength is his strength. The Argentine is not the biggest player around; standing at 6'1", he is on the small side for a modern central defender. But the player is a formidable unit, well built and very hard indeed to shake off. 

His physical attributes are second to none. Aside from that power, Rojo is blessed with the pace and the athletic capacity to bomb up and down the left flank, rarely feeling the effects. His work rate was evident to all at the 2014 World Cup, where he proved Argentina's revelation of the tournament and, among other achievements, kept Arjen Robben quieter than perhaps any other defender in Brazil. 

Like most of his countrymen that make the grade in Europe, the ex-Sporting man possesses decent distribution and rarely fails with the ball at his feet.

As a youngster at Estudiantes, playing even further up the pitch, he came to attention thanks to a blistering left foot. That missile notched him more than a few goals in Argentina, and while his threat has diminished somewhat as he embraces the role of an orthodox defender, all he needs is one chance to release a thundering shot. 

But he has one more secret weapon: an impressive ability in the air. Rojo belies his average height with an excellent leap, and along with his towering header against Nigeria in the World Cup, there have been more than a few goals for Sporting registered from set pieces. 

Last but not least, the new Red Devils man brings a great versatility into the squad. A natural left-back, Rojo was converted into a central defender while playing in Portugal, and as a youngster, he was accustomed to playing as a wing-back—almost a winger. 



The La Plata native is a player that thrives in physical battles. But when he is not in possession of the ball or close to the action, several fragile areas suddenly become evident. 

Rojo's positioning and awareness can be suspect at times. He struggles to track runners in the channel between left-back and the centre, guilty of watching the ball and not his man and leaving him badly placed when play does eventually run into that sector. 

At times, it may seem that discipline is a problem for the youngster. Certainly, a liberal amount of yellow cards through his career hint at that issue.

But this is misleading.

Most of Rojo's infractions become necessary for the player due to his lack of spacial awareness. Having already seen his opponent gain the advantage, he is forced to "take one for the team" and commit the foul, something that in the position he occupies more often than not will result in a card. 

Going forward as well, the player can often be extremely frustrating to watch. His crossing and final-ball ability does not measure up to his prowess in breaking into the attack, meaning Manchester United fans will have to get used to groaning in disappointment as he fires a promising situation out wide far beyond those located in the box. 



While Rojo would not have been at the top of most United fans' summer wish lists, Van Gaal knows what type of player he has purchased. While hardly among the most technically proficient players in the world, the ex-Estudiantes kid is a solid performer who, if he can correct those lapses off the ball, should be able to assert himself in the hectic pace of the Premier League.